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A form of self–publication, zines are amateur–produced, small–circulation magazines, typically created and distributed by one or two individuals.  Zines are created using cheap, readily–available materials such as staples, tape, and photocopies. Zines often feature amateur artwork or a mash–up of images appropriated from popular culture. 

While zines can focus upon any subject, they typically document favorite bands, funny stories, personal diaries, political commentary, comics, and various sub–cultures or populations within a sub–culture. While some zines are still produced, they were most widely distributed from the 1970s through the late 1990s. Throughout the latter half of the 20th century, zines were generally produced by groups with interests that were ignored by the mass media.  Thus they are often referred to as underground publications. 

The earliest zines grew out of fan–produced magazines or “fanzines” created and distributed by and among science fiction and fantasy enthusiasts from the 1930s to the 1950s. Fanzines were amateur–produced and featured stories, artwork, and commentary. They were distributed by mail to other like–minded individuals. Zines, which grew to be much more varied in scope than fanzines, evolved from this “Do–it–Yourself” (“DIY”) attitude and community–focus. Zines arguably reached their high point in the 1980s and 1990s, fueled by new fan communities surrounding musical genres, and later, emerging political ideologies and social identities. 

This exhibition was on display in the Information Room on the first floor of Morris Library from August 14-December 14, 2012.

Tags: Zine libraries; Self-publishing